Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why the bonus points with Virgin’s Economy Delight fares makes the upgrade good value

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

If you try to book an economy flight with Virgin Atlantic, you will see that there are three levels of pricing, each with different benefits.

At the bottom end you have no checked baggage and will be allocated a seat at check-in, with no guarantee that couples will be sat together.  At the top end, you have the Economy Delight package with premium benefits including more legroom.

What I’m going to show in this article is that the additional Virgin Points you earn from Economy Delight are – on their own – pretty much worth the additional cost.  This makes it a no-brainer to book these tickets and effectively get all of the other benefits for free.

Is Virgin Atlantic economy delight worth it?

What are Virgin Atlantic’s economy seat options?

Your options are:

Economy Light: 31″ legroom, Hand Baggage Only fare with seats assigned at check-in, cannot be upgraded to Upper Class or Premium Economy with Virgin Points

Economy Classic: 31″ legroom, equivalent to the old Economy fare with the ability to pre-select seats and with checked luggage included, can be upgraded to Upper Class or Premium Economy with Virgin Points

Economy Delight: Extra legroom (34″ pitch), free seat selection at any time, priority check-in and priority boarding, can be upgraded to Upper Class or Premium Economy with Virgin Points

Full details are on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

Here is a slightly OTT picture of an Economy Delight seat:

Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight explained


We did a review of a Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight flight to New York here.

But there’s more …..

Virgin Atlantic gives you different levels of Virgin Points for each ticket class.

This makes a HUGE difference to the value proposition, especially for Economy Delight.

  • Economy Light:  earns 25% of miles flown plus 25 tier points each-way
  • Economy Classic:  earns 50% of miles flown plus 25 tier points each-way (the Virgin website says ‘50% to 150% of miles flown’ and ’25 to 50′ tier points each way but the cheaper non-flexible tickets will only offer 50% miles bonus and 25 tier points)
  • Economy Delight:  earns 150% of miles flown plus 50 tier points each-way

These numbers show during the booking process when you select an Economy seat and are asked to pick between Light, Classic and Delight. Here’s an example for a return flight to New York:

Virgin's Economy Delight fares makes the upgrade good value
Virgin's Economy Delight fares makes the upgrade good value
Virgin's Economy Delight fares makes the upgrade good value

As you can, the mileage gap is substantial – and this is only for the short hop to New York. We look at the numbers for San Francisco below.

This page of the Virgin Atlantic website explains their tier point system.  You need 400 tier points in a rolling 12-month period for Silver and 1,000 tier points for Gold.

How does pricing move around between ticket types?

There is no fixed answer.  It varies by route and over time.

However, as a rough rule of thumb, Economy Classic costs £100 on top of Economy Light, and Economy Delight costs another £100 on top of Economy Classic. This is for a return trip.

Should you pick Economy Light or Classic?

I’m not going to spend much time looking at the price difference between Economy Light and Economy Classic.

The price gap, as I said above, tends to be £100 return.

As it will cost you £100 return to check in a suitcase, only a total idiot would book Economy Light if they had luggage.  You are not saving anything (the flight costs £100 more but you will pay £100 at check-in for your suitcase) and you are missing out on free selection and a big pile of additional Virgin Points.

Virgin’s pricing for additional baggage over your allowance can be found here.

If you’re not taking a suitcase, the key thing to know is that seat selection before check-in costs £40 each way (£80 return) on an Economy Light ticket although you will get a ‘preferred’ seat for this.

What does seating cost?

Virgin Atlantic restructured its seat pricing policy last year. This is how it now works:

  • Economy Light tickets get a seat allocated at check-in, but passengers may also book a ‘preferred’ seat for cash in advance if they wish. This will cost £40 each way.
  • Economy Classic tickets can still select a seat for free at the time of booking, but passengers will need to pay £30 each way if they want to book into the 25%-33% of the economy cabin which is designated as ‘preferred’ seating
  • Economy Delight tickets continue to let you select a seat from the block with additional leg room

‘Preferred’ seats are defined as:

  • Seats near the front of the cabin
  • Exit row seats
  • Duo seats (two seats with no middle seat)

If you’re happy to take your chances with whatever seats are left at check-in then Economy Light may work for you.  However, remember that you are missing out on additional Virgin Points and you have a ticket type that cannot be upgraded.  Economy Classic CAN be upgraded with points to either Premium or Upper Class.

What is Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight

Why Virgin’s Economy Delight is the real sweet spot

I have been digging into routes and prices.  My view is that it is often a no-brainer to book Economy Delight, especially on longer routes.

A lot of people who don’t read HfP won’t work this out, but let me explain my thinking.

In general Economy Delight is priced at £100 return above Economy Classic and £200 return above Economy Light.

Let’s look at the Virgin Points received.  I am assuming that you are savvy enough to get at least 1p of value per Virgin Point.  This isn’t difficult as long as you are redeeming for Premium or Upper / Business class flights.

Here’s an example.  San Francisco is 10,734 miles return.

This means you would earn roughly:

  • 2,600 Virgin Points for an Economy Light return
  • 5,200 Virgin Points for an Economy Classic return (+ 2,600, so £26-worth)
  • 15,600 Virgin Points for an Economy Delight return (+ 13,000, so £130-worth)

To be clear, on a 12-hour Virgin Atlantic flight to San Francisco the additional cost of Economy Delight over Economy Classic is entirely offset by the additional Virgin Points you earn if you think you can redeem for 1p per point.

This assigns no value to:

  • the extra 3 inches of leg-room
  • priority check-in
  • priority boarding
  • the extra tier points

Compared to Economy Light, you are also getting:

  • free seat selection (otherwise £80 return)
  • a free suitcase (otherwise £100 return)
  • the ability to upgrade with points to Upper Class or Premium if available

Even if you are not a long-term collector of Virgin Points, remember that there are now loads of small redemptions in the Virgin Red app which will get you around 0.5p per point.

Fly to San Francisco in Economy Delight and you would earn roughly 15,600 points which would get you £78 of Virgin Red goodies.  Economy Light would only earn 2,600 points (£13 of Virgin Red goodies) whilst Economy Classic would only earn 5,200 points (£26 of Virgin Red goodies).  The points offset two thirds of the cost of the upgrade from Economy Classic to Economy Delight – and this assumes you redeem for the worst possible Virgin Points redemptions, ie bits and pieces from the Virgin Red app.

Even if you have zero interest in earning 150% base miles from Economy Delight, I still think it makes sense.  On the longer routes, you are paying £100 extra return over Economy Classic to get an extra chunk of leg-room for 24 hours of flying time.  That is £4 per hour.  If you don’t value your well-being at an extra £4 per hour ….

If you believe you can get 1p per Virgin Point, the Economy Delight upgrade is effectively free in most cases due to the extra points you earn.

Conclusion

All of the maths above is based around the longer Virgin Atlantic routes.

The benefit of Economy Delight is less clear cut on a shorter flight such as New York, because the extra cost is still roughly £100 return over Economy Classic but the flying time is shorter and the bonus Virgin Points are fewer.

I would still be giving Economy Delight consideration though, because £100 return for the additional legroom plus some extra points plus priority boarding etc is never going to be a bad deal.

On the longer Virgin Atlantic routes, I see no real justification – if you can get full value from the extra Virgin Points these tickets earn – for not paying the extra for Economy Delight over Economy Classic.

You can read about the different Economy Classes on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

Comments (32)

  • Philondon says:

    On a recent flight from LA to London I had an Economy Classic seat which I bought with points. I upgraded to Economy Delight 24 hours before the flight for £49. I picked row 45 which is the 1st economy row behind Premium, so you have a wall in front of you. So much space my legs didn’t even touch the wall (however I am 5’6). This is the best Economy row IMO as you get fed first out of Economy and the emergency exit row seats are further back and just behind the toilets, so you might get people queuing next to you and a risk of unpleasant odours!

    Re the priority check in, when I checked in the signs at the desk said Upper and Business together and then Economy. I’m not sure if I should have queued at the former or not. I didn’t. Hmmm…..

    • NorthernLass says:

      Great, I will bear that in mind. Was the upgrade only available from T-24, or is that just when you saw it?

      • Philondon says:

        I think that row wasn’t available to me before 24 hours, but then my partner booked my ticket using his Delta points on the Delta website but linked to my Virgin account, so it might be different. Also seats are half price 24 hours before. But there is a risk that the one you want might be gone by then.

  • Robert says:

    Worth noting that if you do book Economy delight you’re restricted to sit in the dedicated section for that, and so you cannot pay for the exit row seats further back (on the 787 at least, not sure what the arrangement is on the A350), as you would have to downgrade to regular economy for that.

  • Kevan says:

    Branson always has to add complicated gimmicks.Instead of one economy you now have 3,well 4 if you add Premium Economy but all long haul airlines have that.

    • Rob says:

      You’d be surprised how few airlines have Premium Economy. Even Emirates doesn’t, although it is launching this year. If BA and Virgin both offer something its because they compete closely – it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is doing it.

      • Justin says:

        @Rob – not sure this is true. How many ‘mainstream’ / ‘major’ airlines are left without PE? Especially if you exclude ME3? All major EU, NA and many major SEA airlines have it.

        • Rob says:

          Why are we excluding the ME3 though? These are the biggest international airlines globally in terms of destinations served.

          You also need to separate out those who came late to the party and only have it on a handful on aircraft (Lufty, Finnair etc) and those who have it on 100% of their long haul fleet. The latter is a fairly short list I’d guess.

    • Richie says:

      PE celebrates its 30 year anniversary this year. VS and Eva air claim to have started it.

    • yorkieflyer says:

      I rather doubt Richard involves himself in such minutiae

  • The Original Nick says:

    There’s an empty seat between those two in the main photo. Clever advertising by Virgin.

  • pigeon says:

    For some reason, on the A350’s Virgin has put economy delight into the rear economy section. Surely they should have made a plan to put it in the front bit of economy?

    Apart from this, it’s a decent product.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.